This month’s column for The Wild Hunt was probably the most difficult piece I’ve ever written.
For the last few months, particularly upon returning from Wales and Dublin, something’s been off with my vision. Or ‘on’ with my vision–I can’t be certain.
I’ve made reference to this a few times, having ‘learned to do something’ I didn’t know how to do before. What I encountered on Llyn Dinas was powerful and soul-opening and maybe a little difficult to integrate into the rest of my world. And unlike closed-circle/container rituals, which keeps the ‘Other’ from ‘spilling out’ into the rest of your life, a Pilgrimage doesn’t just end when you return home.
The Singers in the Darkness is a name for the gods I’ve encountered since returning, though they are the same gods I knew before the Pilgrimage. Just–something more fierce, more brutal, more urgent about Them then before, an aspect I’d not been able to see before the darkness of Newgrange on the Solstice.
Gods really don’t fuck around, huh? They don’t fuck around when it comes to our destruction or even theirs, their un-worlding as the humans who world them slaughter themselves in pursuit of power and plastic. And seeing another aspect, one that’s not waiting around for us to ‘heal’ or ‘center’ or ‘do a few more divinations’ before hearing their message is jarring.
Another matter ’bout that piece. That nuclear power plant? Didn’t know about it until 12 years ago, right around the time it closed. As I mention in that piece, my ‘papaw’ (grandfather in Appalachian) died of a massive brain tumor. His death was quite quick, fortunately. My uncle, my father’s identical twin brother, however–his was awfully slow. The tumor he’d gotten from working in that plant (though I’m sure the settlement my mamaw–grandmother–got likely denies any responsibility) developed over years, and he’d fly into strange rages with his family, talk incoherently about demons, take off all the doors in his home, and apparently black-out for weeks (while still being ‘conscious.’) At the end, my father had taken him into his house as no one else could handle him (the man was 6 foot 3, 300 lbs–my patrilineal line seems descended from Oxen). He’d stopped caring for himself, would defecate all over himself, and the only way my father could clean him was to spray him with a hose in the basement.
That plant closed in 2003. It was 6 miles from where I grew up, and many of the people I know from that area have strange birth defects usually attributed to ‘inbreeding.’ I was born with a massive cyst below my neck that I guess could’ve killed me at some point. I reckon it could’ve been the power plant, or maybe waste from the coal mining or toxins in the water from the paper mills–who knows?
Also, I’ve alluded in the past to that vision quoted in the essay. It–fuck, I’m still not certain who that was. It wasn’t Brân, but someone who served him, or someone sent from him, some dead bard of his, I believe. One never fully knows.
A friend inquired why all of this stuff was so important to me that I’d alienate people, why I’d sacrifice unity and community and peaceful co-existence for my politics. It’s not the first time I’d been asked this, particularly why I’d be so harsh with my analysis of modern society when there are certainly lots of people who find meaning and even joy.
That piece is the only answer I think I can possibly give.